Barbara A. Denz
writer and singer

I began my writing career in an after-school daycare program when I was in kindergarten. With the encouragement of my mom and my teachers, my path led to an undergraduate major in Literature at University of California, San Diego's Muir College, with a specialty in Shakespearean and Medieval Lit. My first check for writing came in 1974, although the article, "One Woman's Choice," (about the option of tubal ligation) was never published. What do you expect from the owners of Penthouse? Yes, really! The magazine (Viva) didn't last long and I submitted the story before the first issue ever hit the streets or I wouldn't have bothered.

My first published submission was in a cookbook. Harrowsmith Magazine (a Canadian publication) had a recipe contest. I submitted four recipes, of which two were taken. The three volumes were published in The Complete Harrowsmith Cookbook: All Three Harrowsmith Cookbooks in One Volume, which is still available on but not through the magazine. I don't eat my own recipes in there very often anymore (too much cholesterol), but there are lots of others that I love. Try the Pumpkin Bundt Cake. Yum.

Although raised on mysteries (especially Agatha Christie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and British and American comedy (P.G. Wodehouse, James Thurber, Ogden Nash), and "girl" favorites (Shakespeare, the Brontes, Victoria Holt, Mary Wallace), the science fiction and fantasy books crept in as soon as I got my own library card for my 8th birthday. First on the list was Robert Heinlein. From there, I just started to inhale books, generally reading all that the library had by any author. It was small wonder that when I settled on a genre to write, it would be Fantasy and Science Fiction.

While living in Kodiak, Alaska, with my husband, David, the local library had all of Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover books. At the back of one was an invitation to join the Friends of Darkover. Once the newsletter started coming, so did the announcements of anthologies (Friends of Darkover and Sword and Sorceress, mostly). In 1987, I submitted a story for the anthology Domains of Darkover ("A Gift From Ardais"), and in 1988 I submitted for Sword and Sorceress. Within two months of each other, I received acceptances for both stories, although the one for Sword and Sorceress (called "The Amethyst Carekeeper") ended up in an anthology called Spells of Wonder instead. I was very proud and am still very grateful to Marion for the break. There are several "known" writers today who got their first breaks in those two anthologies. Both books have been out of print in English versions for quite some time now, but I can always find them on Alibris.

Soon afterwards, I began attending and participating in Science Fiction conventions around the Baltimore metro area. About the same time, I became involved in GEnie and got to know the writers there (now on both and Some have become fast friends and wonderful mentors.

I moved from Baltimore in 1992, and from my home in Washington State, I sold three more stories to Katharine Kerr: "The Will" is in Weird Tales From Shakespeare; "Everything Has A Place" is in Enchanted Forests, and "The String Game" is in The Shimmering Door.

Now that I've retired from Technical Writing and Editing at Microsoft and living on beautiful northern Vancouver Island, I am back to writing again. My first foray back into the fold will be published in the Deb Grabien-edited anthology, Tales From the House Band. My story is called "Saint Rufus Fair" and is a retelling (with considerable changes to the history) of the song MacPherson's Rant.

I also perform music with two bands -- Skewlines, a group pn Vancouver Island that specializes in pretty much anything "folk"-based -- and Port na Gael, a more "straight ahead Irish" band with Vancouver-based friends that David and I met at Boxwood traditional music "camp" in Nova Scotia (Our first CD, Heart But Not Seen, is available. Contact portnagael at gmail dot com.

People have asked me what I listen to when I write. Believe it or not, I listen to public radio on the Web, and especially to KUOW-FM. I also listen to Celtic music and anything without words. If it has words, I have to sing along. And then my writing takes a whole 'nother twist.

I'm ruled by ferrets [with an ever-changing total count], and yes, that's a ferret in the background! They've been around as pets and rat- and rabbit-catchers for hundreds of years.

Some book covers to look for (they're mostly out of print, so check your favourite Out of Print booksellers). Tales from the House Band is due out November 2011.

Edited by Deborah Grabien and due out November 2011
Tales from the House Band cover

Edited by the late, great Martin H. Greenberg and the amazing Katharine (Kit) Kerr
  The Shimmering Door cover  Enchanted Forests cover 
Weird Tales From Shakespeare cover

From Marion Zimmer Bradley's anthology archives
 Domains of Darkover  Spells of Wonder (MZB)

Book of Kells web site

last modified: 06/25/2011 19:24:38